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by Kirsteen Paterson
20 April 2023
Watchdog calls on Scottish Government to fix 'weakness' in climate change approach

Mairi McAllan took on the role of Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition in March 2023

Watchdog calls on Scottish Government to fix 'weakness' in climate change approach

Scottish Government "weaknesses" must be addressed to meet climate change goals, a watchdog has said.

Audit Scotland is calling on the government to address internal problems in its mission to limit climate harms.

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a climate emergency in 2019. In a new report, Audit Scotland says adapting to the impact of climate change has been given less focus than cutting emissions and achieving net zero targets.

And it says the government is "not clear enough" on how internal groups coordinate their climate work, with gaps in reporting making it "difficult to assess progress against climate policy".

A workforce plan for climate change has not been produced since the establishment of the net zero department in late 2021. However, this is expected to be delivered before the summer.

Meanwhile, risk management arrangements around climate change are described as "underdeveloped", with actions to address risks "sometimes vague" and the process to identify risks in the first place unclear at times. A systematic process for tracking actions in risk registers is also lacking.

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for net zero, called the report "damning". He said: "The SNP-Green government thinks talking a good game is sufficient in order to trick people and businesses into thinking they are doing a good job."

Auditor general for Scotland, Stephen Boyle, said: "The Scottish Government’s set up for responding to the climate crisis has constantly evolved since 2019. But the different parts of government could be better coordinated.

"The government’s risk management arrangements also need to improve, particularly the work needed to ensure Scotland adapts to the impact of climate change.  

"Work is ongoing across the Scottish Government to tackle these organisational weaknesses, and it’s vital that happens quickly given the urgency of the climate situation."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said the report's recommendations "will play an important role in helping us deliver Scotland's climate change ambitions", adding: "Scotland is making good progress towards net zero.

"To deliver on our ambitious targets will require truly transformational action across our society and economy, especially to deliver a just transition. Our next full Climate Change Plan will set out our pathway to meeting our emissions reduction targets to 2040, including the costs and benefits of its policies."

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